Inter drop into the Europa League, as they needed to beat Barcelona to reach the Champions League last 16, but lost 2-1 at San Siro with three goals ruled offside.
The Nerazzurri needed a win to go through, or at least to match Borussia Dortmund’s result against Slavia Prague, whereas Barca were already sure of first place in the group. As Borussia Dortmund beat Slavia Prague 2-1, the Germans take second place.
Stefano Sensi, Nicolò Barella, Roberto Gagliardini, Kwadwo Asamoah and Alexis Sanchez missed out, while the Blaugrana left Lionel Messi, Sergi Roberto, Ousmane Dembele, Nelson Semedo, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Arthur at home. Luis Suarez was only on the bench.
Danilo D’Ambrosio fired over the bar on a Borja Valero assist, then when Romelu Lukaku blasted into the roof of the net, he was clearly offside.
Carles Perez stung Samir Handanovic’s gloves from a tricky angle, while Lukaku sent one defender to ground, but had his shot blocked by a desperate Clement Langlet from four yards.
Cristiano Biraghi stung Neto’s gloves, but Barcelona took the lead somewhat against the run of play.
The offside trap was not activated because it was Diego Godin who knocked on the through ball to Carles Perez, who fired in undisturbed, as he tried to anticipate Vidal.
It could easily have been 2-0 on 33 minutes, as a corner was knocked on for Lenglet, who incredibly fired wide from 10 yards.
Lautaro Martinez forced a tricky save from Neto on the half-volley as he took down a long ball, then D’Ambrosio’s header skimmed the woodwork on a Lukaku cross from the left.
The pressure finally paid off, as Lautaro Martinez worked so hard to hold up the ball on the edge of the box, resisting pressure from defenders, setting it up for Lukaku to drill into the near bottom corner from just outside the penalty area, with the aid of a deflection.
Incredibly, at the same moment, news filtered through that Slavia Prague had equalised away to Borussia Dortmund. As things stand with both games at 1-1, Inter would qualify.
Handanovic had to make a tricky save on Antoine Griezmann’s angled drive, but Lukaku really should’ve scored on the hour mark when shaking off a defender only to blast straight at the goalkeeper from close range.
Lukaku again failed to make the most of a Lautaro Martinez assist, as his first touch was too heavy and it went out of play.
Vidal toe-poked a dangerous attempt from the D that skimmed the far post, but Lautaro Martinez created a chance out of nowhere, intercepting a loose ball, flicking it up over his marker and curling just wide of the target.
Moments later, Toro had the ball in the net with another splendid control and half-volley, but he was marginally offside on Godin’s pass.
Antonio Conte threw on Matteo Politano and Sebastiano Esposito for the final push, as news came through that Borussia Dortmund were leading Slavia Prague 2-1, so Inter needed a victory.
Inter had their third goal ruled offside on 80 minutes, this time Politano’s slalom and shot took a deflection off Todibo and Lukaku turned in the rebound, but was in the wrong position.
The Nerazzurri were completely unbalanced and were fortunate Carles Perez wasted the Barcelona counter-attack.
Barcelona did restore their lead with Ansu Fati, as the 17-year-old had just come on when his right-foot snooker shot from the edge of the area bounced in off the inside of the far post, beating Handanovic at full stretch. Aged 17 years and 10 days, he is the youngest ever scorer in the Champions League.
Inter 1-2 Barcelona
Perez 24 (B), Lukaku 44 (I), Ansu Fati 86 (B)
Inter: Handanovic; Godin, De Vrij, Skriniar; D'Ambrosio (Politano 75), Vecino, Borja Valero (Esposito 76), Brozovic, Biraghi (Lazaro 68); Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez
Barcelona: Neto; Wague, Lenglet, Umtiti, Junior Firpo; Rakitic (De Jong 62), Todibo, Vidal; Alena, Griezmann (Suarez 62), Carles Perez (Ansu Fati 84)
Ref: Kuipers (NED)
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